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Losing a Generation to Cultural Schizophrenia - How I Challenge, Question and Inspire

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Today's youth are often referred to as 'The Lost Generation', but dangerously brewing within that is a generation suffering from (what I call) cultural schizophrenia. Cultural schizophrenia occurs when individuals are crushed between two or more cultures, disabling them from balancing the dictations of the cultures; the consequences of which can pose a danger for society.

A classic theatrical example where cultural schizophrenia is evident is the movie East is East, which epitomises characters that struggle to balance the dictations of Pakistani and British culture, together with religion. A more recent example is the sitcom Citizen Khan over which there is much divided opinion. If we turn away from media representations of cultural clashes and take a peek into everyday lives of people in the British-Pakistani community, what we will see is the same struggle between cultures, of which some of the consequences are dangerous to society as a whole.

For instance, the widely publicised, notorious cases of pakistani men grooming white girls places race relations in the UK at rock bottom. A closer study of the issue in context of cultural schizophrenia will unveil among the offenders, an inability to find that very balance between cultures.

Fuelling the inability to find that balance between cultures is the silently dormant issue of gender inequalities. Where girls are protected for the sake of the family's honour, boys are let loose and have fewer rules imposed on them, as a result you'd find lower academic achievements amongst British-Pakistani males (evident in ethnic minority achievement statistics). They too, are encouraged to protect the females of their family in the name of honour. This then forms the foundation for preserving women in the British-Pakistani community, while holding women of other cultures with low regard; actions that do not have repercussions on the family's honour.

Another alarming issue is the rise in young girls full of potential, abandoning educational prospects to willingly marry uneducated bachelors from Pakistan. The girls often aged between 16 and 19 become state-dependent mothers whose children will spend their early years without the presence of their father; a practice which of course, has separate implications on the quality of the child's life. A viscous cycle of dependency and poverty is born. I refer to them as Immigration Widows and Orphans.

The essence of the former issue is prevalent across communities in Britain in the form of teenage pregnancies. Thus, maybe the government should legislate on income assessed child bearing in which you are only allowed to have children if you can afford to. We see cultural ideologies socially engineering our young people who become incapable of supporting themselves, but in an era where governmental cuts are being announced regularly, and with no sign of economic improvement, this is an ever more paramount issue to deal with. Therefore, I call for a serious review of how Britain's young people are being lost to agents like cultural schizophrenia.

A student studying human sciences, I aim to unearth solutions to problems, even if it means discussing taboo subjects. So in the hope of challenging and questioning traditional ideologies, and inspiring young people from my community, I founded and led the first-ever National British-Pakistani Conference in April 2012. Featuring speakers from the House of Lords, the legal and medical professions, and representatives from the social sector, the conference received media attention, and was recognised as a promising platform which would churn solutions into action. As the years go on, I aim for the conference to become a key area which the government will look to when forming decisions that will shape our everyday lives.

Having been recently shortlisted for a Woman of the Future award in association with Shell helps resonate my ethos of continuing to challenge, question and inspire. It has the ability to notify women from the British-Pakistani community to aim high, as well raise awareness for cultural schizophrenia as a real issue that desperately needs attending to.

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